Beginning with the castle and spreading out in every direction, Matsumoto offers enough historical and cultural allure to keep you busy all day. Then night descends and the town takes on a whole new face, one best seen among the lesser-known, lesser-seen alcoves and alleyways hidden all over. This is the side of Matsumoto a night walking tour can show you, without hours of wandering blindly looking for those special, secret spots.
Matsumoto’s Hidden History
While the castle is easy to find, what is much less evident – and goes largely unnoticed by most people – is how far the original castle grounds extended into the Matsumoto of today. The moats, the homes of the samurai district, the outer walls are mostly long gone, but telltale hints of the castle’s former existence remain.
Standing on a street corner in the quiet, historic Agematsu-machi neighborhood and suddenly realizing you are in the path the samurai and the nobility once walked to enter the castle is a feeling like no other – and one that only comes when you have someone who can share these things with you.
Local Matsumoto Hospitality
You’ll find no shortage of eateries in town, but there’s magic in the places that only the locals know about. And on a Matsumoto Experience night walking tour you not only get to spend time enjoying the vibe of several small, independent mom-and-pop establishments, you’ll have the chance to try food and drink you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
The first stop of our tour brought us to a place with a menu that changed with the offerings of the season, along with some great Japanese “sake” rice wine (paired with a few morsels of interesting sake tradition and trivia). Later, at a shop served some of the most excellent soba noodles around, we were introduced to something I’d never heard of: a form of the distilled Japanese spirit called “shochu”, made from water taken directly from the soba-making process.
Matsumoto Castle at Night
Naturally, no visit to Matsumoto is complete without a visit to the crown jewel of the town. A visit during the day comes with a view of the castle backed by the mountains and the chance to climb the castle tower, the oldest one in Japan. But at night the castle takes on a different, illuminating, and quite romantic face. Coupled with some extra facts and interesting stories, a stop at Matsumoto Castle is the perfect end to your night walking tour.
Matsumoto is great any time, in any season. For a special look at this special town, join Matsumoto Experience for a night walking tour and an evening you’ll always remember.